This morning I sat waiting for the bus in the Korenmarkt after dropping my son off at school. An old man was shuffling through the street with his cane. When he came to the curb, his steps got shorter and more agitated. He clearly could not step up onto it, and so he started to shuffle along it. As he jerked along, one of the trams approached. The man was walking, slowly, right where the tram would be stopping, and it was coming much faster than he was moving. The woman next to me, rocking her stroller, looked alarmed, and I’m sure I did, too, as I looked from the man to the tram driver, hoping he would slow down. Before I could do much more than that, a young man with a shaved head, dressed all in black, stepped over to the old man. He put one arm around his shoulder and the other under his arm and spoke to him calmly, reassuringly. As soon as he touched him, the stuttering movements smoothed, and the old man’s gait relaxed, became normal, borrowing strength and assurance. The young man helped him past the curb and let him on his way before turning back to wait for his bus. The tram pulled up, covering the space of the little drama.
I was so touched to see this bit of humanity, this respect and consideration for the stranger. It is one reason I love living in a city: where we are all so close together, we have more opportunity to exercise and witness kindness.